The Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
Toronto  ­ Canada

Fax & Phone # (905) 272-9389

Open Letter to the Lebanese Ambassador in Canada, Mr. Raymond Baaklini

Your Excellency the Ambassador,
We read with surprise and sadness the text of the interview you gave to the "Sada Al Mashriq" and which was published on Dec 31, 2002 under the title "Lebanon's ambassador to Ottawa, Raymond Baaklini: 
We want Canada to revoke its decision against Lebanon.
The efforts of some Lebanese have aimed to put all of Lebanon, and not only Hizbollah, on the terrorism list".

Mr. Ambassador, The Lebanese Canadian community never thought it would see the day to hear its ambassador speak a language of division and hatred unknown to our peace-loving people. Not in the homeland, and not in the Diaspora. Our people gave the world the cultural model for coexistence, openness and tolerance. Your words, Mr. Ambassador, were out of line with the norms of propriety and balance that have long characterized Lebanese diplomacy.

Please allow us with due respect to bring to your attention the following facts, in the hope that you will consider them with an open mind:

1. We do not believe that the Ambassador representing the tyrannical regime in Lebanon is entitled to decide if those who support the Canadian government decision to place Hizbollah on its terrorism list are a majority or not. We do not even believe that he represents us, the Canadian-Lebanese community, because he is indeed appointed by the very regime that supports terrorism in the first place.     We in fact remind the Ambassador and anyone of his ilk that all the officials of the Lebanese regime in place since 1990, beginning with the presidents, ministers, and members of parliament are all mere foreign-appointed clerks who do not represent the aspirations or the values of the Lebanese people. As such, they cannot possibly rank people or know the extent of their representation of the various segments of society.

2.  Mr. Ambassador, you said in the interview: "For a while now, I have been receiving news and information about individuals affiliated with Christian rightist movements who work to put all of Lebanon, and not only Hizbollah, on the terrorism list. I have personally investigated this matter and found that these individuals are not effective, and members of these movements represent no one but themselves in this community."    

We ask your Excellency to disclose the means you resorted to in personally investigating these individuals and movements, since you never engaged any of the sovereignist Lebanese-Canadian organizations in a meaningful dialogue. You must have limited yourself to those who excel in the art of hand-kissing, because you are forbidden perhaps from communicating with those who oppose the regime in Lebanon.     

Your Excellency, we wonder if your "investigating" of these groups is in any way similar to the "civilized and coercive" methods that are used by the regime in Lebanon in pursuit of its opponents?

We again remind you that the people you refer to are Canadian citizens, and their organizations are licensed Canadian organizations. Any of their past or present activities is within the norms of the Canadian legal framework, whereas we firmly believe that your comments in the interview were in dereliction of several laws and norms. We remind you that you are in Canada and not in Lebanon. In Canada, Mr. Ambassador, freedoms and the freedom of expression in particular are protected and guaranteed.

3. You have accused those you refer to as the " Christian Rightist Movements" of siding with the Canadian government in its decision, ignoring the fact the vast majority of Lebanese-Canadians support this action and wish it be implemented by all governments. We certainly hope that the officials of the regime in Lebanon understand the real feelings of people on that matter. 

Again, we wonder about the method you used in determining the religious affiliation of these movements, and whether it involved the "gathering of information" through your personal "investigating"? Is their religious affiliation more of an "intelligence information"? We ask your Excellency to clarify to the Canadian government and to the Lebanese-Canadian community the methods you went about in gathering this type of information!!    

We do not believe it is appropriate for someone in your standing, especially as a representative of Lebanon and all the Lebanese, to make use of religious qualifiers when speaking about one group or another within the community. You see, your Excellency, this is tantamount to sowing discord and division here in Canada as the regime in Lebanon has done with the Lebanese people. Members of these organizations are Canadians first and foremost, owing total allegiance to their host country Canada. They will never forget that Canada welcomed them and offered them the freedoms and livelihood they were denied in their country of origin by the foreigners who forced them into exile. You see, they are not immigrants, they are exiles and refugees who continue to be proud of their Lebanese identity, their only creed and religion.

4. The positions and actions of these movements are public and open, and derive from the Charter of Human Rights. Please remember that one of Lebanonšs own, Dr. Charles Malek, had the honor of effectively contributing to the elaboration of that Charter.

Mr. Ambassador, the vast majority of Lebanese-Canadians of all creeds are proud of Lebanon and its message of peace, love, and respect for human rights. They are not proud of the Lebanon of fundamentalism, hatred, murder, persecution, detentions, exile, destruction, and the one-ideology society.     And so we ask your Excellency to abandon the language you used in the interview. We ask that you apologize first to the Canadian government for the accusations you issued against it, and second to the Lebanese-Canadian community who wishes to have its Ambassador in Canada be the ambassador of all its sons and daughters.

On behalf of the Federation,
Elias Bejjani

9/January 2003